Every junior high child learns that another funny way to say butt is ‘gluteus maximus’. Since then, how many of us actually have learned that there are other muscles in the ‘gluteus’ family? One of my favorite muscles that is often overlooked and when weak, causes problems for endurance athletes, is the gluteus medius. A quick introduction to the muscle: It begins from the top of our hip bone (the ilium more specifically) and inserts at the top of the femur (great trochanter). See the red fan shape highlighted on this skier below!
The main action of this muscle is abduction and internal rotation of the leg. The key to this muscle is that when it is weak, pain will appear in other locations and gait can be effected. From my experience with athletes in the athletic training room, a big symptom of low back pain is gluteus medius weakness. Not of all of us have athletic trainers at our disposal to test if our gluteus medius is weak, but sometimes it is the culprit for pains we experience. A test, called “Trendelenburg’s Sign” is often something we look for.
To start, look at yourself in the mirror. Place both hands on your hips, and then bend one leg at the knee behind you. When standing on one leg, do your hips drop slightly? Or can you only hold yourself up for a few seconds before you have to drop down? If you are unsure just by looking another way to test is to do an exercise sometimes referred to “fire hydrants”. Click the link here, and at the 30 second mark is a demonstration on how to perform the exercise. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZjqFAICl_60 Try to do 30 on each leg slowly. If you are unable to complete the exercise, you could have glut med weakness! It can be corrected as long as you strengthen it and the muscles around it!